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Teachers sacrifice day off to learn

By Rebecca Burk / L’Observateur / January 23, 1998

LAPLACE – Several teachers in St. John the Baptist Parish took one oftheir holidays from teaching to be taught.

Thirteen teachers from East St. John High, East St. John Elementary andFifth Ward Elementary used their Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday toparticipate in a job shadowing program at several area businesses.

Beverly Harris, School-To-Work director, said the 13 teachers shadowedworkers at River Parishes Hospital, Dupont, Shell and Cargill.

She added that the teachers selflessly gave up their day off to learn sothey can relay new knowledge to their students.”The teachers want to improve their skill and help the students,” Harrissaid.

East St. John family and consumer sciences teacher Janice Tomlinson didher shadowing at River Parishes Hospital and said she will have a lot toshare with her students when she returns to school.

“I’ll give them an overview of the hospital,” Tomlinson said. “I want to letthem know there is something going on behind the scenes and let themknow what to study.”

Tomlinson shadowed a few patient account representatives in thehospital’s business office.

“I am just getting a background view of what you don’t know about in ahospital,” Tomlinson said.

“We’re part of the hospital that no one really knows about,” Diane Reed,patient account representative, agreed.As far as giving up her day off to learn, Tomlinson said she was simplycurious about how a hospital runs.

“I really didn’t mind coming,” Tomlinson said. “I was curious about whatwent on behind the scenes.””And there is so much involved,” she added. “There are so many companiesthat you have to do business with for just one client.”

Dolores McCoy, an English teacher at East St. John who also attended theshadowing program at River Parishes Hospital, echoed much of whatTomlinson said about learning new things.McCoy shadowed Stephen West, assistant controller in the accountingdepartment.

“I have learned about payroll, daily census and matching invoices,” McCoysaid. “It’s been very interesting. Quite different from what I amaccustomed to, being a teacher.”

McCoy, like Tomlinson, said her reasoning for using her day off to learnwas solely for the students’ benefit.”I wanted to see what skills my students would need to work in thebusiness area,” McCoy said. “So I will take what I learned back to them.”Another East St. John High teacher shadowed a River Parishes Hospitalemployee.

Jackie Campbell, a ninth-grade English teacher, had the opportunity toshadow the hospital’s director of patient care services, Sallie Herrle.

“There are so many people she is in control of,” Campbell said of Herrle.”She has to be versatile to keep track of all of the nurses and otheremployees.”

As part of the shadowing, Herrle took Campbell on a tour of the hospitaland showed her departments, including the emergency room, intensive careunit and Medsurge.

And what Campbell will take back to the students will be invaluable totheir decision in choosing the career that’s right for them.

“You try to explain to them why you need English,” Campbell said. “I’velearned that no matter what walk in life you follow you will always needit.”

She said she learned communication skills are very important to thosewho work in a hospital because there are so many things to explain topatients.

“I am learning a lot,” Campbell said. “Basically they need to have Englishto do anything.”

And Herrle was thrilled to have Campbell and the rest of the teachers atthe hospital for the day.

“We’re excited to participate in this,” Herrle said. “It gives us an idea ofwhat is going on in the schools, too.”Not only did high school teachers shadow local workers Monday, but someelementary teachers agreed to give up their day off to learn as well.”It’s really been a learning experience,” Kristina Miller, first-gradeteacher at Fifth Ward Elementary, said. “I was apprehensive at firstbecause I didn’t know what to expect, but I have really enjoyed it. I havelearned some good things that I can bring back to my kids.”

Miller shadowed Marcy Lake, director of physical therapy at the hospital.She learned what other services are available in a hospital besides thestandard doctors and nurses.”Usually when I’m talking about the hospital to my kids, theyautomatically think doctors and nurses,” Miller said. “They don’t realizethat you can have other skills to work in a hospital like clerical andbusiness.”

She will tell her first-graders about the different tools that are everydaythings to them but are commonly-seen tools around the physical therapydepartment that heal people and make them stronger.

One of the tools physical therapists use is a huge ball for patients to rollto strengthen their legs and arms. Miller said she would share that withher class because children often relate balls with fun and recess.

“Balls are fun, but they are also used for other things,” she said. “I’mgoing to tell them that they use them to make patients feel better andgain their strength.”

The hospital and other area businesses are excited about the School-To-Work program the parish is implementing.”This is our third time to have teachers come in and job shadow, and theyhave come in with great success,” Lisa Fuglar, director of marketing, said.”We have had a lot of positive feedback from the teachers and theemployees at the hospital. It’s a win-win situation.”

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